Witch and Wolf
Publisher: Pen & Page Publishing
Release Date: November 24, 2014
The Hunted Wizard
When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.
The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race.
Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted.
Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls.
But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…
Almost everyone in the store had a phone. Dormant devices, from reading lights to mobile chargers, littered the tables. One woman, browsing books nearby, had four battery-powered devices in her purse. One was a phone, and like mine, it hungered. Its need was strong; its battery waned to the point of failure.
If I wanted, I could charge it for her.
No one would notice if I did. Maybe the woman would wonder how her phone hadn’t died before she got home. It only had a few minutes left. It’d take me all of ten seconds to fix it for her. If I did, I wouldn’t be so aware of it. But to do so, I’d have to touch her—or her phone. Some things I could manipulate without having a direct conduit, but cell phone batteries were tricky, greedy things.
I cringed a little, setting the thriller book down. I picked up the next nearest title. I flipped it over, not reading the text on the back. Did I dare? Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the woman browsing through the books. All it would take was a few seconds. I could charge it without her noticing.
That was one thing I was actually good at.
I put the novel I held down and wandered to the same table, careful not to look at her. Book by book, I investigated the titles, circling to where she stood.
“You’re Nicole Thomas, aren’t you? The actress. You’re her.” My quarry appraised me with a pleased expression.
People normally recognized the mainliners, people with beautiful faces and voices to match, people who didn’t avoid crowds.
In short, people other than me.
I met her gaze, abandoning my perusal of novels. “I am,” I replied, wincing a little at the sandpaper-rough quality of my voice. At least I hadn’t been reduced to a whisper—yet. My fatal flaw was my rough, grating voice. Chronic laryngitis did that to a person. It ruined careers, as it had mine, though I hadn’t quite given up on being an actress. I’d already lost the ability to sing.
I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease take everything away from me.
The woman smiled, not seeming to mind talking to someone who sounded more like a zombie than a human. “You’re taller than I expected. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
She thrust out her hand.
I left her phone alone.
“They keep putting me next to giants,” I quipped. It was true. When I did manage to get on the silver screen, I worked alongside actors easily a foot-and-a-half taller than me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” I matched her smile. She didn’t tell me her name, and I didn’t ask for it.
It took all of my will not to fiddle with her phone. All it would take was a murmured word and a thought, and it’d be done. It would have been easy to charge the battery when our hands had been clasped together, but I hadn’t dared.
If, sometime later, she noticed her phone had magically been charged—literally—she might remember me. She knew my name.
And in true cowardice, I couldn’t bring myself to help her. If she connected the strange behavior of her phone with me, she might tell someone. If she did, I’d be as good as dead—or worse. I had dabbled in the occult, and the occult had dabbled back, and there were those who didn’t like when that happened.
The last thing I needed was them finding me.
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
This is one of my favorite questions, being honest with myself—it’s a nice hike through my pleasantly misspent youth. I think I went through the entire spectrum of potential dream jobs. There were a few that I got closer to achieving than others, though. I wanted to become a musician at one point—and had the audacity to con my mother into acquiring me not one, but four different instruments over the years. By the time I was a senior, I could passably play flute, violin, saxophone, and clarinet. I sat first chair flute and third chair violin in the same band in the same year at one point. (I had split my lip, which meant I couldn’t play flute… and I could play violin.) I also had to cover a saxophone solo in pep band because the sax players couldn’t make a basketball game.
I also wanted to become a vet for injured birds of prey. I had a bit of a hand with them. I had rescued a Great Horned Owl and a Cooper’s Hawk; the Owl was eventually euthanized after several months of fighting for his life, unfortunately—but the Cooper’s Hawk returned to his home some three months later. Both birds had been hit by cars… and no one else in my family was brave enough to get near wild birds of prey. (Hint, if you ever, ever see a wild hawk injured and unable to fly, you MUST throw a coat or blanket over them before you try to touch them. Some breeds are like rabbits and will have heart attacks from fright. If you cover them, they calm down.)
The owl was tricky to catch. I had to net him, toss a coat over him, and then figure out where his beak and talons were under the mess so I didn’t become a meal…. I ultimately didn’t go for either job; I didn’t have the patience for music and there are few schools that specialize in the treatment of birds of prey; I would’ve had to go to school fairly far away—and I am needle phobic. I break out in a cold sweat at the sight of them.
I also wanted to be a fighter pilot (my vision was unacceptable), President of the United States, and a marine biologist—and an engineer. I have varied interests. Let’s not forget professional sports player. Actually, let’s…
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I think I really felt I was a writer the first time I got paid for writing in both fiction and non-fiction. I held a freelance writer gig for 10 years. It wasn’t until I sold a short story that I felt I could actually be a writer.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
Ouch. This question hurts. I released The Eye of God in 2013. That puts me at roughly ten years from when I decided to try writing novels to making enough progress to release a book. I feel like I could have used at least another ten years of prep work.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It varies wildly from book to book, but a year is a conservative estimate—I can do several books in a year, though. There is a period of time where the book simply sits around and does nothing while I’m taking a step back from the project so I don’t go insane. I’m hoping for four books released in 2015, although several of them are already in varying stages of completion.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I have a lot of plans for the near future! First up, I’ll be finishing up Storm Surge, which is the second book of my Requiem for the Rift King series. Later in 2015 I should be releasing Royal Slaves, which is book two of my Fall of Erelith series. I have huge hopes of finishing Blood Diamond, which is the third Witch & Wolf novel. I’m torn on the other project I want to work on after that; I have a traditional fantasy with steampunk elements novel and a fantasy action adventure I want to work on.
What genre would you place your books into?
Witch & Wolf is a supernatural thriller series, Requiem for the Rift King is an epic fantasy series, and The Fall of Erelith is a traditional fantasy series. I am all over the place in the fantasy genre! I also have a science fiction I really want to get back to working on.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
Ever since I was little I liked the ‘Why?!’ question. Fantasy and science fiction simply let me pursue this interest. Nothing has changed—I still ask ‘why?’ a lot. Why is just the gatekeeper for the stereotypical ‘what if…’ questions many speculative fiction authors use as a starting point for their novels. I’m no different!
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I’m torn on my favorite characters, so I’ll briefly go over a few—each series tends to have one or two. In Winter Wolf, I think Richard is one of my favorites; he’s so dynamic. He has a great deal of depth. His sense of loyalty and honor is really deeply engrained, and it’s something that I resonate with as a writer and reader. He always made scenes very enjoyable for me to write.
In The Eye of God, Blaise is definitely my favorite character. He’s just so different.
In Storm Without End, I really, really like Maiten. He’s so much fun. But, I like a lot of characters in that series. Everyone is a bit of a hike from normality, which makes them interesting. If I can apply the word ‘Interesting’ to a character, I probably love him or her.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I… used to. Now I don’t as much. I’m too busy writing new books or reading a novel to go chase after reviews. Either someone liked or didn’t like the book; I write my novels for a certain type of audience… the negative reviews often are from those who don’t fit that audience. It’s a shame, because I want everyone to enjoy reading my novels, but that’s just impossible. Some will love it. Others won’t.
I often enjoy reading the 4 or 5 starred reviews, though. My favorite is a solid 4 review with both what the reader loved and thought would make the book better; it’s someone who genuinely enjoyed the story and has something that I might be able to use to make future books better. Little beats having a passionate fan reviewing a book—both good and bad.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
This really varies from story to story; when I first started The Eye of God, I wrote the book with absolutely no idea what to call it. I gave it the name because of an item in the storyline. I… er… pardon the language, bullshitted the title. Alas, it stuck. In Requiem for the Rift King, I struggled for the first title, but once I had that, it got much easier to name books. Storm Without End is followed by Storm Surge, which is followed by The Tides of War. I’m undecided on how many novels it will take to get to the final book. That one, however, will be called Requiem for the Rift King.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
This is such a hard one; characters are a product of where they live, their parents, and yes—even their name. Names are important. When I’m deciding who a character is or where they came from, I’m thinking about their names and who/what they are at the same time. I can’t really do one without having considered the other. Sometimes I don’t have to think too hard about it, but… sometimes I’ll spend hours trying to figure out who a character is and why their name would make them who they are. Sometimes the character is who they are in defiance of the name their parents gave them. Sometimes a character chooses a new name for their needs. Names are tricky, tricky buggers.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I always pick a few traits before I start writing—but the characters develop as I write. I do need a starting ground for their character, though. Traits are often how a character comes to the decisions they do—and what motivates them. In Storm Without End, Kalen is very reckless. While he’s not suicidal, exactly… death is simply something that will eventually happen, so he’s willing to push the envelope as far as he can. He’s come to terms with his mortality long ago. But… he is stubborn. So while he is reckless and is willing to go to extremes, he refuses to give up without a fight. These two traits make him very, very good at survival. One drives him, and the other defines him—and over time, maybe he’ll even figure out how to get done what he needs to get done without going to such reckless extremes.
Quitting is typically not in his vocabulary, though.
This character started out with a single trait: Survivalist. I backtracked to figure out what sort of traits would make someone good at surviving things—emotional or physical. Characters are onions of many, many layers. All onions have a root, and for me, that first trait is how I grow them.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I laughed for a frightening long moment when I saw this question. I have been informed by my readers—particularly my mother and my sister—that there are very strong messages and morals in a lot of my books.
I did not, for any novel, go out to write a moral of the story. I set out to write a story about the lives of characters. So, here’s my counter question: Can a story about people not have a moral? People are so dynamic and chase after things so much… that I think every life has a moral of the story in it somewhere.
What the moral of the story is, however, is up for each reader to decide. I didn’t go into writing any of my novels to bring some subtle message, though… but I’m sure they are there, somewhere.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
I love them all. Books are books, no matter which format my books come in. However, there are some caveats to this.
If I’m taking a bath, I prefer a paperback. (Less money wasted if I dump the book in the tub and ruin it.)
If I’m reading in an airport, I like hardbacks. They can act as weapons as well as entertainment. (No creepy guys are going to come at me without me being dangerous with my hardback book!)
If I’m reading in bed… I like ebooks. I can hide under the blankets and read without needing a flashlight.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
Your favorite food is?
I absolutely adore a burrito grande from a Mexican fast-food style joint up the road from my husband’s office. They have a salsa bar. An entire bar dedicated to like eight different types of salsa. My husband goes and picks me up takeout sometime… and it’s just amazing. I just can’t make this at home; they guard those salsa recipes with their lives! (One day, one day, my precious.)
For the curious, a burrito grande is either chicken or beef, Mexican rice, lettuce, guacamole, black beans, sour cream, and some other delicious ingredients I don’t know the name of. It’s also quite huge.
They serve it with a salad on the side in this horrifically delicious vinaigrette dressing.
If my husband and I have a disagreement over something and he’s feeling apologetic, one of these will appear and all is forgiven. I’d do almost anything for one of these.
I usually end up with about four of the eight salsas. They’re all so very, very good—how could I just have one?!
… and I think I scared myself with how enthusiastically I wrote about my love of this Mexican place.
Your favorite group is?
I have two absolute favorites; one is mostly instrumental, the other is not. The instrumental one is my top favorite. The Piano Guys create such beautiful music. I’m often writing my novels to their music.
For singer/band, my favorite is Bon Jovi. I wrote an entire novel to ‘It’s My Life’ on repeat. My husband cringes whenever I play that song now… I don’t blame him. It was background noise for me… and three months of torture for him.
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.